Saudi Arabia has announced as part of its Vision 2030 project, the goal of increasing Saudi nationals employment in the healthcare sector.
Vision 2030 aims to strengthen the Saudi economy by means of diversification and reduction of the dominance of the oil sector, the latter having suffered serious setbacks of late with the collapse of the oil price. Saudi Arabia, for many decades, an oil based economy, has reached the point where two major challenges threaten its economic viability - rapid population growth and low oil prices. Budget deficits as a consequence of declining oil revenues have made the current economic model unsustainable and forced a rethink. Vision 2030 is a strategy to place the country on a new economic footing with the goal of sustainability in the face of new economic realities and prosperity.
Healthcare has experienced a recent boom in the Kingdom with large budgetary allocations, massive new infrastructure developments and new universities and colleges for training staff. However Saudi Arabia has just 1 doctor for 800 people in the Kingdom, a figure well below the global average which is 2.5 doctors for each 1000 population or 1 doctor per 400 people.
Vision 2030 aims to address this deficit by nationalisation, the term for increasing Saudi participation in the work force. Out of a total of 81,532 doctors and dentists in the kingdom in 2015, just 24% were Saudi nationals. The Government aims to increase this figure by partnering with selected educational institutions to train Saudis with a goal of increasing Saudis hired by 300%.
The consequences of this are that Saudis will have priority in job applications but the continued growth of the healthcare sector means that there will still be a continued and high demand for expat doctors.